Friday, August 1, 2014

Accidents and Incidents Are Time Converging Events

On a clear blue sky day one airplane left on a westbound trip, while another departed  on a southbound adventure, both bound to be on time for an unknown converging mid-air path. If the data of these two flights had been communicated, applied corrective actions would have separated their paths.

Mathematical equitation are applied every day to avoid conflicts when air traffic controllers (ATC) requests pilots to change speed or heading. These changes were not planned, but due to one or more variations new calculations predicted current paths to be converging in time.

A once perfect project may over time reveal its flaws. 
Unexpected variations, or special variations,  are hidden flaws hidden in layers of safety guards. Accidents happens when flaws are revealed in an unpredictable sequence and causing time crossing paths.

People are the strength of all safety processes with a unique ability above and beyond any automation in resilience, and the understanding of communicated data. Collected data of special variations are accumulate knowledge. This knowledge makes you wiser, not just older. How insignificant the data might seem at the time, it's an asset to improve safety.  

Special variations may be obscured by the view.
Communication is a key factor to manage safety. Tools and technology for effective communication to avoid time converging events may not be available at all locations, or in all types of airspace. The time to "time of no return" becomes relatively short when pilots first  have to establish visual contact.

Special variation management is to discover the unpredictable sequence at which these variations are revealed.